You can save money and recycle some household waste products by making your own fire starters. This is a guide about homemade fire starters.
I save our empty toilet and paper towel tubes, stuff them with waste paper and junk mail or even pine cones. Then I melt my small, leftover candle pieces in a old candle warmer just until it melts.
Use your wine corks for cheap fire starters. Just add a little alcohol on the cork. It works well.
By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
Editor's Note: Be sure it is a natural cork, not the newer plastic foam corks that are often used instead.
We burn wood, and fire starters are not cheap. My husband laughs at me for some of my cheap ideas, but they work! I use the below in addition to the twigs and leaves and bark that are in the wood pile.
I save dryer lint and stuff it into empty TP or paper towel rolls and use it to start a fire.
Save empty butter wrappers (I first use them to grease cake pans). Store in a bag in the freezer until needed.
Save paper towels that are used to clean up greasy pans or messes as above, store in a bag in the freezer until needed.
By April from NW, MO
By Zoanne 1
Make Christmas gifts by recycling egg cartons and dryer lint! Using a cardboard one-dozen egg carton, fill each hole generously with dryer lint. Using melted scented candles purchased at a yard sale, pour hot wax into each hole, filling 2/3-3/4 full. Let harden.
To use, cut one section from carton, light the cardboard portion, and you've got the perfect fire starter! Great gift for people in cold climates, for parents and grandparents who won't have to find a spot on their mantel to display this year's gift.
By Zoanne from Chugiak, AK
I found this tip at make-stuff.com, it is a great site.
"Fill an empty roll with dried leaves in the fall. Wrap it with newspaper, 4 inches longer than the roll, and twist the ends of the paper, for easy lighting. If you wrap them with decorative paper and put them in a basket they make a nice accessory to a fire place. They can also be covered with Christmas wrapping paper for the holidays. Contributed by Claycrazy."
We shred our excess paper and use it as a fire starter.
By Grandee from CA
This is also a good seller at bazaars, as the scents draw people to your table!
Note: This is not a project for unsupervised kids.
Source: I found this in a craft book several years ago, but I don't have it anymore.
By Poor But Proud from Sweet Home, OR
By Joan C. 1
I liked the many suggestions for using paper towel and toilet paper rolls to make fire starters. My problem was that I didn't have a good way to stuff the rolls and pour or dip them in wax. Then I remembered my camp craft class where we made paper baskets (this was a looong time ago!).
Cut paper towel rolls in thirds. Fold one end and make a cut about 3/4 inches through both layers. Open the fold up and fold again so that the cut ends are now on the edges. Make another cut about 3/4 inches and open up the fold. Fold the four cut edges so they cover each other (like a box). The paper roll can now stand up and be filled with dryer lint, sawdust, etc. Pour the melted wax into the open end.
I also put these on a styrofoam tray (the kind meat comes on works well) and set my rolls up one against the other on the tray so that any wax that seeps through will pool on the tray and not make a mess of my work surface.
We are avid campers. Instead of buying those expensive fire starters, we make our own. Take a cardboard egg carton, fill each cup with dryer lint, melt old candle leftovers and pour into the cups over the lint. Cut them apart and voila, fire starters. These can be put under you kindling. They burn longer and give the fire time to get off to a good start.
By Jodi from Glen Burnie, MD
Put that stale bag of Fritos to good use. Start a campfire with them. They catch on fire very easily.
Here are two more ideas:
Source: 43 years of Girl Scout camping.
By Eileen from Elk Grove, CA
Get a jar that closes with a rubber seal. Put in corks from wine bottles, etc, then fill the rest of the way with denatured alcohol.
Does anyone know how long a cork fire starter burns for?
By korlund 1
Save the lint from the dryer in a plastic container. In the winter months when the wood for the fire gets a little damp, use the lint under the kindling to get it started. Works great!
By katieb 1
Recycle used toilet and kitchen rolls, fill with newspapers.
This is a very inexpensive if not free quaint and useful Christmas gift. You see them in the gift stores for ridiculous prices, why not clean your yard and make lovely presents at the same time.
Gather up pinecones, all except the white pinecones that have pitch on them. Save the ends of used candles and remelt the wax in a foil pan (use as a double boiler). Dip the pinecone in the melted wax to coat it.
You may add fragrance oils, dried crushed herbs, and food color to create a sensory delight. Place the pinecones on a sheet of wax paper to dry within seconds.
Place an assortment of cones in a wicker basket or gift bag. Add bunches of dried tied bouquets of mint, cinnamon sticks, or lavender to give that extra few minutes of fragrance to the fire. People will love it and say how creative and talented you are...not that you are a cheap penny pitcher that makes rubbish look good.
By Live Again from Wiscasset, ME
It is my understanding that burning pinecones creates creosote, which is a sticky tar-like substance that gunks up the inside of your chimney and can create chimney fires. I would reconsider the safety of this idea. (11/09/2005)
Thanks for your concern. I think this might be a problem if all you burned was pinecones. Just using them as a firestarter, I doubt if there would be enough creosote to make much of a difference.
Susan from ThriftyFun (11/09/2005)
Hi Live again...
That's a lovely idea. Thank you. It was especially nice to see that you are from Wiscasset. I live in the midwest, but I grew up in Maine and spent a lot of time with my aunt, uncle and cousins in Wiscasset. Happy memories!!!
For those conerned about creosote, you can use them as a decoration for the winter...like she said...in a pretty basket. etc, and burn them in a campfire or outside fireplace in the summer. Nice! (11/09/2005)
Hi Live again, I too am from Maine,lived there from the time I was born until 3 1/2 years ago and then moved to Tennessee( to much snow in Maine).Yes, they are great firestarters We've used them before and never had a problem with built up creosote. When using anything like that remember to open your flue for a while after burning them and the creosote will burn out. It helps to run your flue open every once in a while to keep the creosote burnt out anyway from other types of wood. (11/10/2005)
By Megan's mom
If you didn't have your flue open when using your fireplace, wouldn't that make your house real smoky? I use pinecones, and also dip leaves and small sticks in the wax to burn also. Great for when your fire starts dying and you want to revive it quickly. (11/13/2005)
May I put your site on a forum?
I was looking at a way to make pine cone firestarters and your site came up?
Editor's Note: Sure, feel free to link to any of our pages. If you have any trouble, email us using the contact information at the bottom of the page. (10/08/2007)
Save lint from dryer, "cardboard" egg cartons (not the styrofoam ones) and old candle pieces or crayons. Put lint in each egg cup. Melt the candle pieces in an old coffee can. Pour melted wax into egg cups. Let dry, break apart and use to start your fires!
By Beejay from Whittier, CA
I too make fire starters for camping this way. I have a plastic bag hanging not far from my dryer where I place the lint from my dryer. I also use the cardboard egg cartons, but instead of using old crayons or used wax from candles, I just purchase Gulf Wax paraffin blocks that I purchase in the grocery store. I use an old sauce pan to melt the wax. These starters are almost free, except for the paraffin that I purchase. We usually cook on our fires so I don't want the scent of candles in our fire. But that is just me. Glad someone else is into making these simple fire starters for camping. They get the fire started quickly, as the dryer lint, cardboard and wax are very flammable.
These sound like great ideas, however, if you're starting a fire indoors (needing a chimney) you do not want to use anything like crayons or wax that adds to the build up in the chimney. (01/13/2007)
Yes, yes, I'm certain it's a great idea. WARNING! Watch the temperature of the heating wax VERY carefully because it tends to melt quickly and FLARE UP FAST, which is how my 11 yr. old daughter caught our kitchen on fire years ago. Our kitchen has never been the same, and I ALMOST didn't hear her scream as she tossed WATER on it, the WORST POSSIBLE THING SHE COULD HAVE DONE IN HER PANIC. I was in the back bath with the exhaust fan on as she was yelling for HELP! By the grace of God she was not burned and our home didn't burn down.
I've been saving old egg cartons with plans to show my grandchild how to make paper from it since what I have are recycled paper cartons for brown eggs.
You've given me the great idea of using the egg cartons for holding/storing the medium small pine cones we plan to dip in paraffin for outdoor fire starters in our firepit rather than to toss all of those
things. I just LOVE to recycle, don't you? God bless you. Thanks, too. : ) (01/26/2007)
I'm always running low on extra money for gifts, and always watching for things found curbside or that are recyclable and free, especially at Holiday time:
I'm about to warm old candle wax and crayons swirled for exotic color, with cinnamon oil and vanilla added for fragrance. Then I will take the pine cones I find being left to weather beneath pine trees around the malls and forgotten, dip, swirl and sprinkle with glitter and add to a washed mesh grocery bags from fruit, veggies or turkeys. I'll place into old but good painted baskets or wooden containers and add single threads of thin red ribbon woven loosely all through the bundle and around ends, handles, or tops of what I finish with, along with a sprig of rosemary from the lawn care clippings at the same mall where it over-grows by a bank, with their permission of course.
I hope to find an attractive but frugal box of safety matches to tuck into it for their fireplace or outdoor firepit-burning of the lightly waxed scented cones. My notecards tucked in will be made from phone-directory homepressed spring flowers and leaves that say such things as "Hope this leaves you blooming with memories from your warmest holiday ever. Merry Christmas, dear hearts."
By Lynda from Richardson, TX
I wish I were on your Christmas list! (12/05/2007)
By Jean in GA
We to make our own fire starters, but we use (paper) egg cartons and dryer lint and sawdust. Fill the "egg" part of the cartons with dryer lint or sawdust, melt your old saved candle pieces and pour over the lint, sawdust or combo of both. After they dry/set we cut them apart in 2's. Not as pretty, but just as functional! (12/23/2007)
Fire starters for camping are easy to make with things you have around the house. All you need is a paper egg carton, dryer lint and wax. I use old candle wax. Fill each section of the egg crate with dryer lint, then pour melted wax over each section.
After the wax hardens, pack for your next camping trip. When ready to start the fire, break off a piece of the egg carton and light it up. It lights easy and burns long enough to get the rest of the fire started.
Another fire starter old newspapers.My uncle has a newspaper roller which he rolls the papers and uses them as starter material. Of course with our local newspaper that's about all its good for! (08/13/2008)
What would be a good way to make some for the indoors? Ideas? (08/13/2008)
For safety's sake, please melt wax in a type of double boiler even if using a tin can. Do not melt directly over a flame. I learned this the hard and scary way. (08/18/2008)
I make firestarters for our fireplace by melting wax (very carefully!) and dipping pinecones in it. You can keep a basket of them near (not TOO near) the hearth and just toss a coupel in when needed. No need to cover the whole pinecone, just dip the top half. I've also used candles and grated them up, wrap some in newspapers, and put this on the bottom of the fire. I've kept a tin container (with lid) of grated wax close to the firepalce. (08/18/2008)
Back home we used to use birch bark rolled up in a can tight (short can)- and then poured melted wax over and let harden. This was also good and a good gift to your favorite camper - hunter - fisherman! (08/20/2008)
A basket of pine cone fire starters is a wonderful gift to make. It is fairly inexpensive and I have fun making them every year. Carefully melt paraffin or old candle ends in a double boiler and use tongs to dip your pine cones. I sprinkle some of them with glitter and leave some without then set each dipped cone on wax paper to dry.
I pick up very inexpensive baskets and containers at sales all year long. I also get candles at these sales for change, it does not matter if they have already been partially used. If you do not have a few baskets and containers on hand, save this tip for next year.
Source: A friend gave us a basket of fire starters many years ago and she shared with me how to do them. Enjoy.
By Bobbie G from Rockwall
My husband has made fire starters for our wood burning stove by taking saw dust and wax from old candles and adding them together in egg shell cartons. Then he broke them a part in individual parts. When he wants to get the fire going, he puts one in with the wood and lights the egg carton. Works every time.
By Tiggerinoregon from Fairview, OR
Be sure to use cardboard egg cartons, "not" Styrofoam. (11/21/2009)
I would like to know how to make a homemade fire log starter.
By Susan from New Smyrna, FL
One thing we have done is to take wood chips about 2x2 inches and soak them in used oil or kerosene. Soak for 1 week then take out let dry and store in a 5 gallon bucket use a few to get a fire going.
Another thing is take newspaper and soak in water then wad it up, or get a press to press the water out and form into a brick. Let dry then keep stored and use when needed. (01/10/2010)
There are lots and lots of ideas in the ThriftyFun archives below. Be sure to read them all but steer clear of using dryer lint or plastic egg crates because of lung dangers due to the burning toxins :-) (01/13/2010)
Instead of buying those fire starters, make your own out of empty wine boxes. I fill with little pieces of paper and poke holes in both sides, and light up!
Does anyone remember the directions for making homemade pine cone fire starters? I used to have one that made the fire burn different colors. Thanks in advance.
By dollyddg from Lynn, MA
This site has instructions for water based fire starters. The pine cones are soaked in different chemicals to produce colors when burned. Please make sure to read the safety concerns at the bottom of the page!
What happens to your shredded material at home or the office? I take them on camping trips! The paper shreds are a perfect fire starter. Sprinkle them in the pit, add wood, then sprinkle more on top. They make it very easy to get the fire going and it adds to the purpose of "shredding" for sure. Not to mention, re-purposing your shredded paper as a fire starter keeps it out of the landfill.
By Lori from Greenwood, MO
I like the basic idea - I'd be more comfortable with making the shreds into less "blowable" fire starters, I think. I am going to try stuffing shreds into a toilet paper tube, AND I'm going to try putting some shreds in a cardboard egg carton with some melted paraffin wax poured over the top... (06/15/2010)
Keep your paper towel rolls and toilet tissue rolls and stuff them with your shredded paper and use them for fire starters in camp fires. Little of the fire starter on the roll and you are ready to go. (06/15/2010)